She was so freshly impressed with the new life-lights, curious, tawdry, fascinating, revolting, above all sharp and undisguised, of the world she had left, that she saw them already projected with a verisimilitude which, if she had possessed the art of it, would have made her indeed famous. Her own power of realization, assured her on this point—nobody could see, not divine but see, as she did, without being able to reproduce; the one implied the other. She fingered feverishly the strap of the little hand-bag in her lap, and satisfied herself by unlocking it with a key that hung on a String inside her jacket. It had two or three photographs of the women she knew among the company, another of herself in her stage uniform, a bill of the play, her powder-puff and rouge-box, a scrap of gold lace, a young Jew’s letter full of blots and devotion, a rather vulgar sapphire bracelet, some artificial flowers, and a quantity of slips of paper of all sizes covered with her own enigmatically rounded handwriting. She put her hand in carefully and searched—everything was there; and up from the bag came a scent that made her shut her eyes and laugh with its power to bring her experiences back to her. She locked it; carefully again with a quivering sigh—after all she would not have many hours to wait. Presently an idea came to her that she thought worth keeping, and she thrust her hand into her pocket for paper and pencil. She drew out a crumpled oblong scrap and wrote on the back of it, then unlocked the little bag again and put it carefully in. Before it had been only the check of the Illustrated Age for a fortnight’s work; now it was the record of something valuable.
The train rolled into a black and echoing station as the light in the carriage began to turn from the uncertain grayness that came in at the window to the uncertain yellowness that descended from the roof. Boys ran up and down the length of the platform in the foggy gaslit darkness shouting Banbury cakes and newspapers. Elfrida hated Banbury cakes, but she had a consuming hunger and bought some. She also hated English newspapers, but lately some queer new notable Australian things had been appearing in